Part 2. European Colonization North of Mexico

The Boisterous Sea of Liberty

Part 2. European Colonization North of Mexico

The Boisterous Sea of Liberty

A Documentary History of America from Discovery through the Civil War
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Paperback 13/01/2000 ISBN13: 9780195116700 ISBN10: 0195116704 Drawing on a gold mine of primary documents--including letters, diary entries, personal narratives, political speeches, broadsides, trial transcripts, and contemporary newspaper articles--The Boisterous Sea of Liberty brings the past to life in a way few histories ever do.
Here is a panoramic look at early American history as captured in the words of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many other historical figures, both famous and obscure. In these pieces, the living voices of the past speak to us from opposing viewpoints--from the vantage point of loyalists as well as patriots, slaves as well as masters. The documents collected here provide a fuller understanding of such historical issues as Columbus's dealings with Native Americans, the Stamp Act Crisis, the Declaration of Independence, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Missouri Crisis, the Mexican War, and Harpers Ferry, to name but a few.
Compiled by Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, and accompanied by extensive illustrations of original documents, The Boisterous Sea of Liberty brings the reader back in time, to meet the men and women who lived through the momentous events that shaped our nation.

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      For more than a century after Columbus's voyages, only Spain and Portugal established New World settlements. England did not establish its first enduring settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, until 1607; France did not found a settlement, in Quebec, until 1608. Early European migration to the New World took sharply contrasting forms. Compared to the Spanish, Portuguese, or the French, the English migration was larger and more gender balanced. Altogether, about 400,000 people migrated from England to the New World in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including many farmers, small merchants, and artisans. Outside of New England, most immigrants were indentured servants who agreed to serve a term of service in exchange for transportation across the Atlantic.

      English settlement itself took a variety of forms. In New England, the economy was organized around small family farms and urban communities engaged in fishing, handicrafts, and Atlantic commerce. In the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia, the economy was structured around larger farms and plantations, relying on indentured servants, and later slaves, to raise tobacco.


    • What factors led the English to colonize the North American mainland? What factors pushed certain people to leave England and what factors pulled them to the colonies?
        Envy of Spain's wealth and clashes with Spain over religion. Conditions in England that pushed people toward North America included poverty, overcrowding, and crime. People were pulled by the desire to improve their way of life.

    • Why was the death rate so high in early Jamestown? Why do you think that Jamestown's population fell from 500 to 60 during the winter of 1609-1610?
        Because of disease, Indian attacks, and starvation.

    • What effects did demand for tobacco have on Virginia?
        It increased demand for field workers and the need for land, and therefore stimulated the demand for slaves and provoked conflict with Indians.

    • How was early Massachusetts similar to and different from Virginia?

    • What role did Squanto play in the Pilgrims' survival?
        He taught them how to adapt to their new environment and feed themselves.

      WHAT IF?

      How would American history have been different if:

      1. either the Spanish or the Indians had wiped out the Jamestown colonists during the Starving Time?

      2. the original English settlement at Jamestown had failed just like the colony at Roanoke Island, North Carolina?

      3. Opechancanough's attack on the Virginians in 1622 had succeeded or if the New England Indians had emerged victorious in King Philip's War?


        Locate Jamestown on a map. Why might the English colonists choose to locate a settlement here?
          They thought it offered a good port and could be easily defended against Indian attacks. In fact, they got poor land and drinking water as well as mosquitoes and disease.


        How should Native Americans have acted toward the early English colonists? Should they have assisted them and taught them how to raise food? Or should they have tried to stop them from living nearby?

        Was Opechancaough justified in ordering the Great Massacre of 1622? Was King Philip's war justified?

        Were the English justified in colonizing lands already inhabited by Indians?


      The colonial period is truly this country's formative period. Many of this society's fundamental principles were planted in the colonial period--such as our commitment to freedom of religion, representative government, and liberty and equality. But the colonial period also left American society with less positive legacies, such as the institution of slavery and a long history of conflict with Indians.

      Selections 1-2.

        In 1584, Richard Hakluyt, a London lawyer, issued a call for English colonization in North America. According to Hakluyt, why shouldn't the New World belong exclusively to Spain?
          Hakluyt argues that the Pope had no right to give the New World to Spain and Portugal and that Spanish cruelty toward the Indians undercut any claim they might have.

        According to Hakluyt, what benefits would England gain by colonizing the New World?

          Hakluyt claims that England is overpopulated with loiterers and idle vagabonds who might be put to work in the New World producing timber for ships' masts, planting sugar cane, maintaining silk worms, and pursuing many other profitable activities.

      Document 5.

        In 1622, Indians led by Opechancanough, Powhatan's successor, nearly succeeded in overrunning the colonists. Why did the attack almost succeed? What consequences did the attack have upon English and Indian relations?
          Edward Waterhouse maintains that the colonists never suspected an Indian attack. The attack resulted in the removal of all restraints on killing Indians.

      Document 6.

        In 1656 John Hammond, an English pamphleteer, described servitude in Virginia during the tobacco boom years. What was indentured servitude like, in his view?
          Hammond argues that earlier in time, the servants' labor was almost perpetual and their food allowance was small. Servants' suffered all the cruelty that tyranny could inflict. But Hammond claims that conditions had greatly improved.

      Document 7.

        During the 1660s, Virginia adopted a series of statutes formally recognizing slavery. Why do you think that it took Virginians over half a century to adopt a slave code? What was the purpose of these laws?
          Earlier in Virginia's history, when the number of blacks in the colony was small, the status of Africans varied widely. But as the number of Africans grew and the economy began to rely more heavily on slavery, new statutes were adopted to denigrate blacks and distinguish black slaves from white indentured servants.

      Document 11.

        What does John Winthrop mean when he speaks of a covenant?
          He refers to the idea that all societal relations rested on consent and mutual responsibilities.

        What, according to Winthrop, will happen if people violate their covenant with God?
          If the Puritans abide by the covenant, God would make them an example for the world; but if they break the covenant the entire community would feel God's wrath.

      Document 15.

        The idea that prices should fluctuate according to the laws of supply and demand is a relatively recent invention. In early seventeenth century New England, Puritans held to the idea that goods had a "just price." What modern capitalistic ideas did the Puritans reject?
          That the price of goods should be determined by the marketplace; that merchants should strive to maximize their profits, that they should raise prices to make up for losses on other goods, and that they should take advantage of the ignorance of others.

      Documents 18-19.

        How was the Salem witch scare related to the introduction of slavery into New England?
          The first accused witch was an Indian slave from South America who had carried new ideas about the supernatural to New England.

      Document 21.

        During the seventeenth century, the notion spread that Englishmen had greater rights than people anywhere else in Europe. What, according to Henry Care, constituted English liberties?
          That Englishmen were not subject to a ruler's arbitrary will, but rather were protected by rule of law.